Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 4:1-6:14 / Hebrews 5:11-6:12 / Proverbs 26:23-27:4
Solomon writes, “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?” (Proverbs 27:4) The Hebrew word for jealousy is associated with envy and zealousness. Solomon isn’t referring to a one-time display of jealousy but an ongoing jealous disposition.
A jealous man is worse than an angry and wrathful man as his wrath and anger can soon be over or appeased. Whereas with jealousy, there is no end to it as there is no satisfaction to jealousy’s accusations. The New Living Translation explains fury as “wrath” that is “like a flood”. A flood is destructive but the waters of a flood will eventually recede. Floods are not a daily or monthly event but random and protective measures can be used in the event of a flood.
Unlike a flood, jealousy is constant and there are no preventatives against it. Jealousy can be justified within marriage and the Law gave parameters for it. If a husband became jealous because he felt there was the presence of impropriety or unfaithfulness with his wife, his jealousy was to be tested. The priest would take holy water and mix some of the dust from the floor of the Tabernacle into it. A curse for unfaithfulness was written on a scroll and washed into the dusty water mixture.
The woman was presented before the Lord, sworn to an oath to her marital faithfulness and then would drink the water mixture. If she had been faithful, she would not have a physical reaction to the mixture but if she was unfaithful, her thigh would shrivel up and stomach swell up. Her innocence or guilt would be proven but also the husband’s jealousy was to be settled and dealt with. He could no longer hold onto or harbor jealousy…it was to cease and he was to bury it.
Jealousy rages within a person’s heart and privately contrives against others. Abel could not stand against Cain’s jealousy and Joseph was helpless when his brothers’ jealousy manifested with a scheme of murder. James speaks of jealousy as rising from selfish ambition that is unspiritual and demonic. Jealousy manifests itself in disorder and evil practices. (James 3:14-16)
Saul was angry when the people sang David’s praise but his heart was filled with a driving jealousy that would not be satisfied until David was killed. Saul attempted to kill David and pursued him relentlessly throughout the land of Israel and beyond it’s borders.
The final command of the 10 commandments speaks to the sin of jealousy because God knows our weakness and struggle with jealousy. God expects us to guard our hearts against jealousy and to battle jealousy with truth and honesty. We cannot let jealousy linger or let it have a foothold in our lives…it will destroy us.